In today's reality of travel restrictions, two of the Centre for Forest Value’s PhD candidates didn’t miss their chance to present on the global stage, at the Ecological Society of America conference recently.

Students Rose Brinkhoff and Travis Britton were invited to present their research virtually at the 105th annual conference, with this year’s theme being “harnessing the ecological data revolution”.

Rose’s presentation was titled the determinants of optimal leaf area in eucalypt plantations and highlighted data from her field experiments on the impact of nitrogen fertiliser on leaf area, photosynthesis, respiration, stomatal conductance and transpiration.

“Participating in a virtual conference was a good experience, and while there were some inevitable downsides of not being able to meet people in person, there were also some great aspects. I found the whole experience very rewarding and inspiring,” Rose said.

“My research results showed that extra leaves in response to high nitrogen may create carbon and water costs to Eucalyptus nitens on dry sites. It was great to see how my research fits in with what other people are doing across the world and connect with other researchers.”

For Travis, the opportunity to tailor his choice of preferred talks proved beneficial.

“I spent around two full days listening to all the talks. It was good being able to just pick and choose which talks you wanted to listen to, unlike a normal conference where you watch all the talks in between. But this had its cons as well, as some of these talks can be much more interesting than what you are expecting from the abstract,” Travis said.

Travis presented a talk titled Neighbours and tree size influence drought damage in an experimental forest with co-authors Chantelle Ridley, Tim Brodribb, Shane Richards and Mark Hovenden.

“I presented data from my first chapter which opportunistically involved assessing canopy damage at my field site following a severe drought (the driest on record for the area since 1874) in January 2019,” he said.

“We showed that competitive interactions between coexisting trees for water increased drought damage of two important forestry species (Eucalyptus regnans and Eucalyptus delegatensis) and that smaller trees were also more vulnerable.

“It was interesting to see that drought (in particular the effects of future drought) was a very active research area globally and that some of the findings from our study and site are applicable to forest systems more broadly.”

The ARC Training Centre for Forest Value is funded by the Australian Research Council and industry partners and is part of the University’s College of Sciences and Engineering.


Main image: Rose Brinkhoff collecting data.

Thumbnail image: Travis Britton in his natural environment.